Crowlers, the Glass Growler Alternative, Catch On

News by | Jul 2015 | Issue #102

The Crowler seamer at Chicago’s Dry Hop Brewers. | Photo by Kevin Longstreth

At DryHop Brewers in Chicago, a reserve of hollow, artfully embellished 32-ounce aluminum cylinders sits next to a series of shiny steel bright tanks behind their bar, awaiting a fill. The brewery began offering Crowlers, the aluminum can counterpart to the glass growler, in September 2014, making it the city’s first designated station.

Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery worked with Ball—the manufacturer that patented the Crowler cans—to develop the Crowler seaming machine, of which Oskar Blues now has exclusive distribution rights.

The filling process begins with a carbon dioxide purge to minimize oxidation before fresh beer is poured from the tap. A rimmed lid is placed atop the container by hand, and then the seamer rotates the can 360 degrees, sealing it in about 10 seconds. A properly filled Crowler has the same shelf life of any canned beer, but Oskar Blues recommends drinking the contents within a month. The single-use Crowler may be recycled like any standard can.

Oskar Blues made the device available in spring 2014 and there are currently about 250 units—which sell for $3,000 each—in use, predominately by breweries, although its popularity in bars and draft to-go retailers is increasing. Dixie Canner Company out of Atlanta also offers a similar product.

Cigar City in Tampa, Fla., Cycle Brewing in St. Petersburg, Fla., West Sixth out of Lexington, Ky., and Waterbury, Vt.’s Prohibition Pig are among a handful of breweries pioneering the new trend along with DryHop.

A smaller, 750-milliliter, single-serve Crowler can was released in April.